Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Why I Voted Against Prop 2

It's true: I voted against Prop 2 in November. Prop 2 requires that "hens, sows and veal calves be given enough room to stand up, lie down, turn around and fully extend their limbs n banning modern production practices." I didn't broadcast my "no" vote on Prop 2, obviously. I'm a vegetarian animal control officer- I spend my day walking the walk and fighting the fight- why on earth would I subject myself to repeated berating? Well, I'm ready to out myself now, and explain myself.

In no particular order, or a particular order depending on the day, my reasons for voting against Prop 2:

1. The California Proposition system sucks, and in general, propositions are bad law. Robert Elisberg of the Huffington Post (everyone's most reliable news source, I know) writes a great, though tongue in cheek, piece about some of the failings of the proposition system. Here's the nuts and bolts:
The voting public didn't willingly study even thin guidebooks when they were in high school and required to. Instead, with propositions, they turn to watching 30-second TV ads to learn what the laws are about.

Watching 30-second TV ads to learn what a law is about is like reading a fortune cookie and believing that you now understand Eastern Philosophy.

Elisberg continues: "We," the California voting public continue to vote for propositions that support initiatives and then vote against funding these initiatives. This leads to reason 1.a: themacinator is a communist (well, sort of). themacinator believes in the state supporting lots of services. California voters don't seem to agree with themacinator. Who's going to support prop 2 financially? I know, I know, you free market people will say, well, the local businesses! And you've shopped in Oakland lately, right? That's going really well!

Anyway, back to the original Reason #1: Propositions are bad law. I'm not a lawyer or a legislator or any other person qualified to make a law. I probably shouldn't even be voting on them. So now that I've produced the Huffington Post as one good piece of reputable source material, I give you propaganda to do some more research: don't take my word for it, check out Vote No on Everything, which pretty much sums up how I feel. And if you really really think there is some merit in propositions, just remember Prop 8 and historically, Prop 13. Oooh, we're onto #2. Segue!

2. Prop 8 was also on the ballot in 2008. I had a horrible, awful, sinking feeling that Prop 8 was going to pass. Even if none of the other reasons on this list weren't in existence, it pained me to vote for rights for animals when I knew that fundamental human rights were going to be denied to my fellow Californians. I know this sounds messed up- I work in animal welfare. But bottom line, animal welfare is also about human welfare. There's this link that I believe in- we need to have respect for each other, and we don't. How can we respect animals if we deny each other basic human rights? Obviously, this isn't an either/or. Animals AND humans deserve basic rights. But I'm ornery sometimes, and I was pissed. I am pissed. But you will see that other factors are at play.

3. One of these factors is animal rights groups such as HSUS and PETA. Again, I can be ornery, and just the fact that all of the big name AR groups turned out in major support of a lousy California Proposition really turned me off. Again, the fact that this was a proposition was bad enough- why would a big name/big money group throw weight behind it? And why would I support a proposition that was supported by a big name/big money AR group? AR groups stand for most of the things that I stay far far away from. Sure, HSUS lately has started to change their tune on pit bulls, but approximately, oh, 20 years too late. (As recently as 6 months ago, an HSUS representative told a training class for animal law enforcement professionals that I attended that pit bulls are dangerous for children because they may chase and kill small animals.) Check out the awesomely distorted video on the HSUS website promoting "humanely" raised animals- I'm getting ahead of myself- again, if this is the 2 minutes that voters are using to decide on a proposition, I think that we're fooling ourselves. Of course I'm going to pick cutesy wutsey ootsy schmoopsy little piglet sucking on mama. Awwwww. But it's deceptive. Thank goodness HSUS has enough money to put together shiny/deceptive videos for their favorite causes!

Even more awesome, PETA promised that a "yes" vote would terminate cruelty! Wow!!! I almost regret my "no" vote, except then I'd be out of a job. I mean, one little vote and Cruelty, Over? Oh, wait, there's fine print. PETA doesn't want us to eat animals at all, so I guess a yes vote didn't end ALL cruelty. Shoot. Another awesome video- are we going to eat those cute dogs they're holding? It's old news about PETA and why I steer clear, but really- I can't help it. It's hard for me to support something so clearly supported by my enemies. There's some cliche about that.

4. I guess I'm not really a communist (you didn't believe that, did you?), because I think people should make their own informed decisions about where/what they eat, drink, read, buy, etc. I chose to be a vegetarian. I haven't eaten meat in almost a decade, and red meat in almost 15 years. I don't think that's the right choice for everyone. But it's a conscious choice for me. I hate dogma of all kinds, and really, preaching vegan-ism is a dogma. It's just not right for everyone. There is no humane meat (see the next item- you're getting the picture, right? these are all related...) and this law just kind of makes choices for people. I believe in accurate labeling, I believe in having open options, and I believe in letting people make informed decisions. We *should* have advocacy groups- as much as I am annoyed by PETA and HSUS if they want to put their propaganda/educational materials out there about humanely raised animals out there to encourage more people to buy these products, I think that's awesome. If other groups want to encourage people to shop at farmers markets and local stores, I think that's great. To force people to purchase one type of meat means the industry will produce one type of meat. It means people will stop educating themselves and looking for other, better options.

5. And here we have it; the bottom line; the big Kahuna. It's a myth. Humanely raised meat is not humanely raised, or slaughtered. There's a whole website you can read called, appropriately, The Humane Myth. I'm just guessing that when you picture a "Humanely Raised Cow" you think of something like your Great Aunt Jo with her goat with a kid out on the back acre. Something like this:


Yeah, factory farms don't look like that. "Humane" farms don't look like that, either. (Ok, that's not really a farm at all. That's a stray goat we housed at a barn for awhile. I loved him.) What does "cage-free" actually mean? Check out this picture and article from the New York Times in 2007. The chickens aren't in cages, but they sure are packed in there. If you've ever dealt with chickens in bulk, you know that they're very very dirty creatures. They poop a lot. The chickens in that picture aren't litter box trained. So it doesn't surprise me to read
The university decided that its current source of eggs, which uses a cage system, had the edge in food safety.
The article also states that these chickens will never peck, and that "these are not free-roaming chickens living out in a pasture." Buyer beware! What exactly *is* humane?

For some definitions of "humane" terms, check out Stop Smithfield Foods. It's eye opening. The pictures are telling- it may be better, but it's not good. This goes back to my last item: people need to be able to make choices. Sure, we *should* all eat humanely raised meat. But we should all eat REALLY humanely raised meat, and there should be a federally imposed and enforced standard, enacted by lawmakers and agreed to by the industry (as opposed enacted by the uneducated citizens of California, who were pressured by Animal Rights groups.)

I also believe animal rights groups dropped the ball on this. Did they really think that this was humane? Those cage free chickens? Sure, the chickens can turn around. Awesome. I would confiscate chickens in those conditions. Those cows sure look like a health hazard. And check out how happy Happy Cows are, thanks to Prop 2. Even animal rights activists are calling the bluff: humane certifications are meaningless. And now Prop 2 has won. We've bought the goods, and the meat industry can sell them to us for even more money because the animals are So Happy! Seems bass akwards to be, but, hey, I voted no.


Valerie said...

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as humane meat, eggs, milk.

1/2 of all chicks born to be egg laying hens are male and are deemed worthless because they cannot replace their mothers and lay eggs. The male chicks are literally thrown out like garbage or eviscerated (while still alive) and made into fertilizer or pet food. 1/2 of all baby cows born on dairy farms are male and are also considered worthless. They are either sold to become veal or sent directly to the slaughterhouse. The veal industry would not exist if not for the dairy industry creating this "byproduct."

No matter how nicely we treat them while they are alive, spent farm animals take the same miserable truck ride to the slaughterhouse. There's no such thing as "happy" eggs or cows. This is all brilliant spin created by the multi-billion dollar animal agri-industries and perpetuated by the HSUS, PETA and other so-called animal rights organizations, that are merely profiting off the backs of the animals they claim to be protecting. But blame whomever you want for farm animal abuse and exploitation, as long as we eat them, we are supporting the cruelty.

Definitely check out the website: http://www.humanemyth.org/index.htm

Thanks for the awesome post.